The great regionalisation distraction
The Great Regionalisation Distraction:
Sending migrants to the regions no solution to population growth, says SPA
Sending new migrants to the regions, as the new Population Minister, Alan Tudge, suggests is just ‘tinkering around the edges’ in dealing with Australia’s population growth problems, according to Sustainable Population Australia (SPA).
SPA national president Sandra Kanck says current net overseas migration (NOM) is simply too large, no matter where migrants go.
“Australia’s population growth rate is more than twice the OECD average, it is higher than most developing nations. This is largely driven by immigration and births to immigrants,” says Ms Kanck. “It cannot be sustained in the long-term.”
“The Government has repeatedly been disingenuous in holding up regionalisation as a solution, and the media has been lax in calling them to account.
“Our political leaders must address the fact that our population growth rate is too high. The presumption that we can just move new migrants to the regions is completely without evidence.
“Where is the analysis that shows there are real, ongoing jobs in regional areas which can’t be filled?” asks Ms Kanck. “They might number in dozens, but not in hundreds of thousands.”
Ms Kanck cited recent research by the Australian Population Research Institute, which showed that employment outcomes for recent skilled migrants were very poor. “Most of the skilled migrant visas are in professions which are demonstrably oversupplied, with Australian graduates already struggling to find jobs” she says.
“Directing migrants away from settling in Sydney and Melbourne is an admission their skills in those places were never needed. In turn this shows the skilled migration program is not driven by real demand.
“Decentralisation is perpetually trotted out as a solution, yet the Albury-Wodonga growth scheme in the 1970s outlaid enormous amounts for only modest results.”
Ms Kanck says Australia lacks the water and river systems to maintain high population densities in the interior of the country.
“This leaves the relatively well-watered east coast where urbanisation is already having a devastating effect on biodiversity by destroying habitat, not least that of the iconic koala,” she says.
“The government is stoking this ‘regional solution’ conversation because it doesn’t want to have the infrastructure conversation,” says Ms Kanck. “They don’t want to reveal that, no matter how much it is planned, there are no viable, affordable infrastructure solutions for population growth at our current rate. State and local governments become the fall-guys in their attempts to keep up.”
SPA has repeatedly called for a national population policy to properly address the effects of rapid population growth on the environment and the economy.